TALLINN - Estonia, Latvia and Finland have signed a technical agreement on joint developing of armored carriers, aimed at the conduct of a joint procurement that could lead to extensive defense cooperation among the three countries four years from now, the "Aktuaalne kaamera" evening news program of Estonia's public broadcaster ERR reported.
Finland and Estonia already are in a process of jointly procuring self-propelled howitzers from South Korea.
Finnish-made Pasi armored personnel carriers (APCs) are currently in use in the Estonian defense forces. Plans are for the acquisition of new APCs to be written into the defense forces' development plan 2026, as the useful life of the currently used Pasis is nearing its end and Estonia needs to acquire about a hundred vehicles over a ten-year period.
"We are talking about five or six different platforms. One is the most common armored personnel carrier, which carries a gun, communications equipment, and whose task is to transfer a squad-sized unit. In addition there will be communication management carriers, medievac carriers, logistics carriers, combat engineer carriers," said Kusti Salm, director of the Center for Defense Investment.
The Finnish company Patria, which manufactured also the Pasi APCs, has been having the prototype of a three-axle, 6x6 armored carrier ready for three years. Whether or not it will become the basis for a new joint Finnish-Baltic armored carrier will become clear after the procurement. Pasi looks like a logical choice, as the defense forces are already familiar with that manufacturer's output, ERR said.
Finland and Estonia are acquiring self-propelled artillery from South Korea, and both need fire support vehicles to make the howitzers properly functional. The countries could be working together in that as well, ERR added.
Pasis are being used in UN peacekeeping missions. The Estonian defense forces use them in international missions, where they perform the functions of fighting vehicles.
Other joint procurements that Estonia has engaged in to date are a joint purchase of air surveillance radars with Finland and a purchase of ammunition with Latvia.